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Puducherry, formerly Pondicherry or Pondichéry, union territory (2001 provisional pop. 973,829), 183 sq mi (474 sq km), India. It comprises the noncontiguous enclaves of former French India: Puducherry (formerly Pondicherry or Pondichéry) and Karaikal (formerly Karikal) on the Coromandel Coast in Tamil Nadu state, Yanam (formerly Yanaon) in Andhra Pradesh state, and Mahe (formerly Mahé) on the Malabar Coast of Kerala state. The capital of the territory is Puducherry town (1991 pop. 401,437) in the Puducherry enclave.

The four enclaves and Chandannagar, a town near Kolkata (Calcutta), were remnants of French imperial ambition in India in the 17th and 18th cent. In 1949, Chandannagar was incorporated into West Bengal state. Under an agreement with France, India took over administration of the four enclaves on Nov. 1, 1954; a treaty ceding the settlements to India was signed in May, 1956, but it was not until Aug., 1962, that the formal transfer occurred. Despite some agitation to merge the enclaves with the states surrounding them, the territory remains under the administration of the central government of India. The enclaves on the Indian Ocean suffered destruction and loss of life from the Dec., 2004, tsunami. The territory was renamed from the colonial Pondicherry to the native Tamil Puducherry in 2006.

Puducherry (formerly ; புதுச்சேரி or பாண்டிச்சேரி, పాండిచెర్రి, പുതുശ്ശേരി, Pondichéry) is a Union Territory of India. It is a former French colony, consisting of four non-contiguous enclaves, or districts, and named for the largest, Pondicherry.

In September 2006, the territory changed its official name from Pondicherry to the vernacular original, Puducherry, which means "New village It is also known as The French Riviera of the East (La Côte d'Azur de l'Est).


Pondicherry consists of four unconnected districts: Pondicherry, Karaikal, and Yanam on the Bay of Bengal and Mahé on the Arabian Sea. Puducherry (Pondicherry) and Karaikal are by far the larger ones, and are both enclaves of Tamil Nadu. Yanam and Mahé are enclaves of Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, respectively. The territory has a total area of 492 km²: Puducherry (city) 293 km², Karaikal 160 km², Mahé 9 km² and Yanam 30 km². It has 900,000 inhabitants (2001).


French influence

There is evidence of Romans visiting Pondicherry around 2500 years back. The Pondicherry Museum has Roman cups, jars and the coins traded in Pondicherry at that time.

A remarkable degree of French influence in Pondicherry exists to this date. Pondicherry was designed based on the French (however originally Dutch) grid pattern and features neat sectors and perpendicular streets. The entire town is divided into 2 sections, the French Quarter ('Ville Blanche' or 'White town') and the Indian quarter ('Ville Noire' or 'Black Town'). Many streets still retain their French names and French style villas are a common sight in Puducherry. In the French quarter, the buildings are typically colonial style with long compounds and stately walls. The Indian (Tamil) quarter consists of houses lined with verandas, and houses with large doors and grills. These French and Indian style houses are identified and its architecture is preserved from destruction by an organization named INTACH. If ever anyone wishes to demolish the existing house in the town area and rebuild, they need the permission from this organization and the new built house should resemble the same architectural beauty it possessed before destruction. The use of French language can be still seen in Pondicherry.

The history of French India holds in regard Joseph Francois Dupleix. The Statue of Dupleix in Pondicherry gives some idea about the immense contribution of the once Governor General in trying to consolidate French direction, at least in some parts of India. Dupleix can be held primarily responsible for the Carnatic Wars as a repercussion of the trouble between England and France in Europe. At first Joseph Dupleix was successful in resisting the attacks of the English East India Company, but he lost in the later battles.

The Statue of Dupleix is Pondicherry's tribute to the his contribution in the building of the city. Joseph Dupleix was the governor of Pondicherry and served the city. With the end of his governorship in 1754, the dream of France to become the supreme power in India also came to an untimely end. The Statue of Dupleix in Pondicherry was commissioned by France in 1870. Another statue was built in France and thus homage was paid to the French soldier who served France's interests in India. When The Statue of Dupleix of Pondicherry was first built, then this 2.88 m tall statue stood over six granite pillars, heavily decorated and curved, at the Place du Republique. Later on, the position of the statue was changed. Now, the statue of Dupleix stands in another place. When you walk in the promenade, now known as Goubert Avenue, then you will find this statue at its southern end, now overlooking a children's park.

Official languages of government

Official languages of Pondicherry are French, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam. Status of each languages varies differently with respect to each district. When communicating between districts of different languages, generally English is used for convenience.

1.Tamil: Language used by the Pondicherry Government, especially when communicating within and between the Tamil majority districts of Pondicherry and Karikal along with issuing official decrees. Also the official language in Tamil Nadu state.

2.French: It is also the official language of Pondicherry Union territory. It was the official language of French India (1673-1954) and its official language status was preserved by Traité de Cession (Treaty of Cession) signed by India and France on 28 May 1956.

It remained as the de jure official language of Puducherry U.T by the Article XXVIII of Traité de Cession which states that,

  • Le français restera langue officielle des Établissements aussi longtemps que les représentants élus de la population n'auront pas pris une décision différente (French version)
  • The French language shall remain the official language of the Establishments so long as the elected representatives of the people shall not decide otherwise (English version)

Regional official languages

3. Telugu: Another official language of Pondicherry, but used more within Yanam (Telugu district). Telugu is widely spoken in Pondicherry by Reddys, Chettys and Naidus. So, more correctly, it is considered a regional official language of Puducherry while being the official language of Yanam District. It also has an official language status in the state of Andhra Pradesh.

4. Malayalam: Another official language of Puducherry, but used only within Mahé (Malayalam district). So, more correctly, it is considered a regional official language of Pondicherry while being the official language of Mahé District. It also has an official language status in Kerala State and Lakshadweep Islands Union Territory.

Language spoken in numbers

As of 2001, number of people speaking in each official languages are,

  • Tamil: 820,749 (In Pondicherry and Karaikal Districts)
  • Malayalam: 36,823 (In Mahe District only)
  • Telugu: 31,362 (In Pondicherry and Yanam Districts)
  • French: Above 10,000

Government & administration

Special Administration Status

According to Traité de cession dated 1956, the four former French colonies were assured of maintaining their special administrative status. That is why Pondicherry is the only Union Territory with some special provisions like Legislative Assembly, French as official language, etc.

The Article II of Traité de Cession states that,

  • The Establishments will keep the benefit of the special administrative status which was in force prior to 1 November 1954. Any constitutional changes in this status which may be made subsequently shall be made after ascertaining the wishes of the people.

Pondicherry Freedom Fighters

  • Way back in 1787 and 1791, farmers of Karaikal agitated against the heavy land tax imposed by the French. The first war of Indian Independence had its impact in the French settlements but it did not attract the attention of the rulers, as the incidents were few and considered as local. People employed legal means to fight against the French. In 1873, an advocate, Ponnuthammbi Pillai, moved to Paris court and won the case in which he was awarded a penalty by a French Magistrate in Pondicherry for walking into the court with footwear.

Pondicherry in literature


Macro-economic trend

This is a chart of trend of gross state domestic product of Puducherry at market prices estimated by Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation with figures in millions of Indian Rupees.
Year Gross State Domestic Product
1980 1,840
1985 3,420
1990 6,030
1995 13,200
2000 37,810

Puducherry's gross state domestic product for 2004 is estimated at $2 billion in current prices. The potential for fisheries is substantial in the Union Territory. The four regions of the Union Territory have a coastline of 45 km with 675 km² of inshore waters, 1.347 ha of inland water and 800 ha of brackish water. There are 27 marine fishing villages and 23 inland fishing villages with fishermen population of about 65,000 of which 13,000 are actively engaged in fishing. Irrigation tanks and ponds are also tapped for commercial fish rearing. The Railways play a vital role for speedy economic growth. The entire cost towards execution of the new broad gauge line for 10.7 km from Karaikal to Nagore would now be funded by the Ministry of Railways and work has already been awarded on turn key basis for laying the new railway line in a period of 18 months. The present availability of power is about 400 MW. The demand is likely to increase with the development of Port, Special Economic Zone, other industrial development, trade, commerce etc.It has been decided to expand the Puducherry Airport so that air services could improve gradually over years, to land ATR to Boeing aircraft, to meet the growing demand for air travel. A MoU has already been signed with Airports Authority of India for expansion of Puducherry Airport in two phases.

Tourist spots

Places to visit

Places of worship

Churches over 100 years

Hindu Temple

  • Manakula Vinayagar Temple
  • Vedapureeswarar Temple
  • Varadaraja Perumal Temple
  • Kamakshi Amman Temple
  • Thirukameswarar Temple, Villiyanur
  • Moolanathaswamy Temple, Bahour
  • Navagraha Temple (15 ft high Navagrahas)
  • Panchavatee
  • Sri Prithyingara Devi Temple




Puducherry is connected by a railway branch line from the five-way junction at Viluppuram (town). The railway line is being gauge converted under Project Unigauge from metre gauge to broad gauge.

Road network

Puducherry is endowed with excellent infrastructural facilities on par with the best available in the country. A network of all weather metalled roads connecting every village exists in the territory. Puducherry has a road length of 2552 km (road length per 4.87 km²), the highest in the country.

Road length comparsion with Tamilnadu and India as a whole.

Total Road Length (in Puducherry) 2552 km.
Road Length per 1000 km². Puducherry Tamil Nadu India
4575 1572 663

Classification of roads

Sl. No. Type of Road Length in (km)

National Highways


State Highways


District & Other Roads


Puducherry - 173.384


Karaikal - 55.162


Mahé - 19.622


Yanam - 26.460




Rural Roads


Puducherry - 164.964


Karaikal - 83.470




Grand Total


See also


External links

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